Fall Ball

Fall Ball

by Peter McCarty

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Bobby and his friends wait all day for school to end and for their chance to play outdoors in the fall weather. Flying leaves, swirling colors, and crisp air make the perfect setting for a game of football with Sparky the dog.

The kids are surprised by how quickly it gets dark, and even more surprised when it begins to snow. But there's no need to worry—the


Bobby and his friends wait all day for school to end and for their chance to play outdoors in the fall weather. Flying leaves, swirling colors, and crisp air make the perfect setting for a game of football with Sparky the dog.

The kids are surprised by how quickly it gets dark, and even more surprised when it begins to snow. But there's no need to worry—the chilly nights ahead will mean watching football on the couch with family, tucked under a cozy blanket.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Harrison Smith
McCarty has a gift for bringing out the particular qualities of an ordinary day…Fall Ball [is] a paean to autumn and football…
Publishers Weekly
Autumn beckons in this nostalgic ode to football season, which features an after-school scrimmage among nine grade-school children. In all, seven boys and two girls bounce home on their school bus, disembarking in a safe, tree-lined neighborhood. “Football in the park in ten minutes!” Bobby tells his friends, before calling to his mother, “I’ll be back when it’s dark!” Except for Jimmy, who dutifully rakes leaves, the children initiate a game that is disrupted by Sparky, a mischievous golden retriever resembling Hondo, of McCarty’s Hondo and Fabian. McCarty insiders will notice many such cozy details from past books, from chicken- and rabbit-themed decorations to fond football references. In his familiar pen-and-ink and watercolors, McCarty pictures squat, doll-faced children bundled in woolly sweaters. These same-age, same-size, moderately diverse kids play outside until snowflakes fall and a blue haze announces twilight. As in Night Driving and Moon Plane, McCarty salutes an idealized middle-class Americana, down to the clunky TV on which a cohesive nuclear family watches an evening football game. Grandparents will be charmed—actual children, perhaps less so. Ages 4–8. Agent: Gotham Group. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Autumn beckons in this nostalgic ode to football season...” —Publishers Weekly

“McCarty's story is Hitchcockian in its suspense, as the monster, wearing a pink hat and carrying a brown suitcase, makes his way to Jeremy's door. Once again, the monster proves that he knows exactly how to shift Jeremy's quiet life into unexpected territory.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Monster Returns

“The pacing is superb and invites viewers to linger over each page. This is an engaging celebration of artistic imagination and friendship.” —School Library Journal on The Monster Returns

“Satisfies in its supply of companionship all around.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Monster Returns

“Tired of having only imaginary companions, Jeremy seeks out real friends in this marvelous and comic tale of the consolations and limits of our imaginations.” —The New York Times Book Review on Jeremy Draws a Monster

Children's Literature - Jillian Kobelin
This autumnal story follows a group of kids on a cozy fall day. The kids ride the school bus home, while leaves swirl through the cool air. As they bound off the bus, Bobby rounds up the gang for a game of football. The kids promise to be home by dark, forgetting that it turns dark early in the fall! They head home as it begins to snow, eat a warm meal, get into comfortable pajamas, and settle in to watch some more football on TV. “Fall Ball” elicits the warm-hearted sentiments that accompany the fall season—back-to-school excitement, crisp air, warm fires, and crunchy leaves. The text is very simple, with short sentences that would be easy reading practice for new readers. The accompanying illustrations complement the mood of fall, drawn in a muted palette of browns, blues, and burgundies. This book is good encouragement for young readers today to get outside and play with friends. The story is relatable and charming, demonstrating the value of companionship. Reviewer: Jillian Kobelin; Ages 3 to 7.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 1—McCarty's expert pen-and-ink and watercolor style lends a crispness so powerful that readers of this ode to fall may find themselves reaching for a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa after the very first leaf-filled spread. A large yellow school bus bounces along an old bumpy road, carrying children eagerly anticipating a chance to play outside. Bobby organizes a gang of neighborhood kids for a game of football, but Jimmy dutifully, if unrealistically, chooses to keep raking leaves-a chore complicated by a feisty dog. When Sparky intercepts a pass and carries it straight through Jimmy's carefully raked pile, they all end up covered in crunchy leaves. The illustrations turn dusky-hued and moms start calling out names, bidding children home as snowflakes start falling. At first they protest, but "back in the house, there are good things to eat. There are cozy pajamas and warm blankets." And, the final spread shows a family of three wedged onto a couch together, more football to watch. While the story lacks McCarty's usual emotional nuance, readers will certainly identify with the reluctance to come inside and the joys of warm indoor family time. Families and educators will welcome this addition to the compendium of fall stories.—Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH
Kirkus Reviews
McCarty distills a crisp essence of late fall into a few familiar images: a bouncy ride home on the school bus, an impromptu game of football (the American kind) amid piles of leaves, the first flakes of snow in early dusk and the cozy warmth of the house after play. A slightly diverse group of pink-cheeked and well-scrubbed primary-grade children (two girls and eight boys, including Bobby with his football and Jimmy, whose attempt at creating a tidy pile of leaves is certain to be thwarted) looks sweetly like an array of young hedgehogs. They have spiky hair and round bodies and are so kinetic that they seem to move in a tumble above the ground. Textured lines and muted colors in the children's clothes and the flying leaves combine with the substantial creamy paper to make each lighthearted spread sweetly inviting, so tactile and alive that one can almost imagine the smell of autumn leaves in the air. The spare text, perfectly pitched for a preschool audience, offers just enough to support the illustrations and for pre-readers to revisit and retell the story. Even listeners without Bobby's passion for football will find the afternoon's outdoor recreation appealing, and adult readers may remember the delights of independent, child-organized group play. A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends. (Picture book. 2-5)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
AD290L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Peter McCarty is the author and illustrator of many books for children, including Jeremy Draws a Monster, T Is for Terrible, and Hondo & Fabian, a Caldecott Honor book. He lives with his family in upstate New York.

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